Changes in Crossed Spinal Reflexes After Peripheral Nerve Injury and Repair
Journal of Neurophysiology
We investigated the changes induced in crossed extensor reflex responses after peripheral nerve injury and repair in the rat. Adults rats were submitted to non repaired sciatic nerve crush (CRH, n ϭ 9), section repaired by either aligned epineurial suture (CS, n ϭ 11) or silicone tube (SIL4, n ϭ 13), and 8 mm resection repaired by tubulization (SIL8, n ϭ 12). To assess reinnervation, the sciatic nerve was stimulated proximal to the injury site, and the evoked compound muscle action potential (M
... and H waves) from tibialis anterior and plantar muscles and nerve action potential (CNAP) from the tibial nerve and the 4th digital nerve were recorded at monthly intervals for 3 mo postoperation. Nociceptive reinnervation to the hindpaw was also assessed by plantar algesimetry. Crossed extensor reflexes were evoked by stimulation of the tibial nerve at the ankle and recorded from the contralateral tibialis anterior muscle. Reinnervation of the hindpaw increased progressively with time during the 3 mo after lesion. The degree of muscle and sensory target reinnervation was dependent on the severity of the injury and the nerve gap created. The crossed extensor reflex consisted of three bursts of activity (C1, C2, and C3) of gradually longer latency, lower amplitude, and higher threshold in control rats. During follow-up after sciatic nerve injury, all animals in the operated groups showed recovery of components C1 and C2 and of the reflex H wave, whereas component C3 was detected in a significantly lower proportion of animals in groups with tube repair. The maximal amplitude of components C1 and C2 recovered to values higher than preoperative values, reaching final levels between 150 and 245% at the end of the follow-up in groups CRH, CS, and SIL4. When reflex amplitude was normalized by the CNAP amplitude of the regenerated tibial nerve, components C1 (300 -400%) and C2 (150 -350%) showed highly increased responses, while C3 was similar to baseline levels. In conclusion, reflexes mediated by myelinated sensory afferents showed, after nerve injuries, a higher degree of facilitation than those mediated by unmyelinated fibers. These changes tended to decline toward baseline values with progressive reinnervation but still remained significant 3 mo after injury.